So here we are. A new season looming. Last year at this time, we were excited about our MLS Cup Champs starting a new season. Now we’ve got a whole new look, and time will tell whether it works or not.
Gary Smith is gone, and to judge from Tim Hinchey’s interview on From The Pitch last month, he never existed. Hinchey never missed an opportunity to gush about “the team Paul Bravo built”. So apparently we have Supreme Leader Bravo to thank exclusively for the MLS Cup win. All traces of Gary Smith have been purged. Check out the new improved photo from the White House visit.
So like obedient fans, we have forgotten whoever he was, and we pledge our allegiance to the New Rapids Regime.
The Rapids FO is busy talking up the brand new focus on Latin American players. Actually, you’d be hard pressed to find any MLS team that wasn’t recruiting Hispanic players over the past month. Perhaps this is an MLS directive. Plant a few token Spanish-speaking players here and there, and hordes of Latin American fans will flood the stadiums. This is like saying an American who moves to England, will only attend Premier League games if the teams feature a bunch of American players, speaking American English. Would you spurn tickets to a Real Madrid or FC Barcelona game because the teams weren’t full of American players?
Hispanic fans aren’t going to attend MLS games because the teams add a few token players from random Spanish speaking countries. Any competent marketing person knows it’s more than tokenism. Slapping “Cantina” on the stadium restaurant isn’t enough. So in case some of those marketing geniuses don’t get it, here are some tips:
- Make Hispanic fans feel welcome at the stadium. Can big groups of like-minded fans sit together as a group? How is that accomplished if they don’t necessarily all know each other personally, or they come from different Spanish-speaking countries?
- Will they get to carry on with fan behaviors they’re used to back home: bringing drums and horns, throwing stuff, waving big flags, etc. MLS has a lot of fan behavior rules that might spoil the experience.
- Play exciting soccer. If it was all about superficial tokenism, Chivas USA games would be overwhelmed with fans. Instead, the L.A. Galaxy games are packed to the rafters. Imagine! Spanish-speaking fans come to see decidedly non-Hispanic David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
- Lumping all Latin American Spanish-speaking fans together is practically insulting. Mexican fans aren’t necessarily going to give a damn about players from Columbia. It’s like assuming American fans automatically prefer watching English players over players from Spain, Germany or Japan.
The Rapids new coach is supposedly going to create a new attacking game, as opposed to that old unproductive game that won the MLS Cup. But we won’t speak of that Inconvenient Cup. It’s possible some Rapids players are heading for obsolescence, because their playing style won’t fit. Don’t be surprised if we have a few abrupt Terry Cook-esque departures this season. A few young guys have been drafted, and MLS gives the Rapids middling scores for those choices.
Actually, it’s amazing MLS even mentioned the Rapids at all. The MLS home page news feed has been almost completely devoid of Rapids stories of any kind since early November. The new coach announcement was buried on the bottom of the news feed, where it languished for about 5 minutes before disappearing. An article assessing the strength of each team’s 2012 schedule estimates the Rapids’ is the 5th toughest, based on last year’s point totals. One major change this year will be less travel East, and more games with Western Conference teams.
Supposedly the big push this year is to get a jersey sponsor. One would have thought that should have been a Big Push in previous years, but apparently it’s just been discovered as an important issue. There are plenty of well-known companies with Colorado ties, that might make cool jersey sponsors. Here’s a random list. Obviously not all possible choices, but vote on up to 4 below.
Is everyone happy? Tim Hinchey is happy – he has the job he wanted. Oscar Pareja is happy – he has his big break. Supreme Leader Bravo is happy – he has a coach on a short leash, one who knows the consequences of getting uppity. The players may or may not be happy – we’ll never find out. And the fans are happy – we still have a team to support.